I was looking for an inexpensive ground cover system. The Paul Scoles articles in the Nov/Dec 1998 Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette gave me an idea. He used decomposed granite gathered at the foot of rock formations. Most of us don't have rocks to decompose for ground cover. While walking through Home Depot I noticed the red Paver Sand, I bought some and my ground cover system was developed.
The three pictures are of Delaware showing red clay. Red clay is the most common color of dirt. The model picture shows the red paver sand and use of cheap latex paint matching the sand color. The ground cover is just sifted to the level of fineness and poured over the open areas. It is affixed with diluted white glue. (Click images to enlarge)

Red paver sand from Home Depot. This was my initial venture into paver sand ground cover.
I use this sand for ballast to contrast the red paver sand.
These three strainers are used to make different levels of fineness. The top strainer is a french fry strainer and the other two are just finer mesh.
(Click image to enlarge)
I found Structolite in search for Hydrocal. It is too slow setting for the initial hard shell application. I trowel it on the hard shell for texture and to form contours over the hard shell.
Hydrocal Substitutes
I found these products in Lowe's and Home Depot. They are sold as floor levelers and available in quantities up to 25 pounds. Both work quite well.
Paul Scoles discussed his system of using decomposed granite in this issue of NG&SLG, Nov/Dec 1998. It was one article in a great series on scenery. It may still be available as a back issue.

This is the red paver sand effect. I am modeling O scale. Smaller scales would need experimentation to determine the fineness suitablility.
Dirt!! Why not use common dirt? I have used dirt and it usually goes to mud and washes away from the sand in the mix. It also does not dry well when mixed with the diluted white glue. It tends to form dry mud cracks.
A latex paint is need to match the paver sand. Make a small patch of glued down sand on a piece of cardboard and take it to the paint store to match the color. Use that as the base scenery color. The sand will dry darker after it is glued down.
My Pacific Coast Air Line Railway is depicting central California at the end of the nineteenth century. I had a chance to visit the region and had to rethink my gravel plan. Red clay was not the prominent sand mixture. It is more of a tannish to grey mix.
I call this California tan I am still looking for a closer match but this is close. It is a paver sand and is tanner in larger quantities. The look is hard to match exactly.
This is California grey. It looks like concrete. Sakerete concrete sand mix glued down with diluted white glue gives a good match.
California red, this play sand mix matches this really well.
This is a dark grey paver sand it includes more small rocks.
Mixing those two sands.
Granulated limestone is uniform, but looks like coal leavings.
Pulverized limestone was a mess. This is why dirt doesn't work. It contains elements that are too powdery.
California Dreamin'.....
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Subject: pcal
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